**Contains Some Spoilers**
Michael Welch and Lin Shaye star in a mysterious cautionary tale of grief in Timothy Woodward Jr.’s The Final Wish.
Following the tragic news of his father’s untimely demise, ambitious lawyer Aaron (Welch) is summoned home to confront his past from coping with his grief-stricken mother (Shaye) to unfinished business with his ex-girlfriend, Lisa (Melissa Bolona). Aaron’s plight doesn’t end there as he finds a strange artefact amongst his father’s belongings that possesses an unimaginable dark entity. Will Aaron protect himself and his loved ones before it’s too late?
The Final Wish unfolds as a slow burning, character driven study and an intimate snapshot of the aftereffects from losing a loved one and how it impacts those who are still living. Woodward Jr. presents an atmospheric and plaintive ambience throughout the film as Aaron navigates through his own troubles as he attempts to figure out what he wants from life.
Interestingly, The Final Wish opens on a creepy house with an ominous presence and goes immediately for the scare factor. From that point, Woodward Jr. builds on the drama and character relationships before releasing more horror elements upon the audience. The small-town setting and brooding main character feels evocative of Stephen Kings works, Ben Mears from his 1975 novel Salem’s Lot springs to mind returning to his childhood hometown to be confronted with darkness.
The Final Wish loses points due to the fact it conforms to the tiresome “kill the pet” trope to up the ante and to signify that real danger is afoot. Aaron is accused of murdering a neighbour’s dog in cold blood while the camera lingers on the poor animal with its insides hanging out for longer than necessary. Can’t genre filmmakers be a little more creative and leave the pets alone! Surely, there’s plenty that could be done to convey that the threat means nasty business rather than reverting to this lazy, all too common, mean-spirited trope.
On a positive note, the acting in this film cannot be faulted. Lin Shaye is on top form as always, relishing in her role as the broken widow, vulnerable and lost without her husband, harbouring a fragile mental state. Her conflict with her son, Aaron plays out as raw and real. Alongside Welch, they present a believable dynamic as mother and son.
A real treat for genre audiences is a short appearance by horror veteran Tony Todd who is there to bring knowledge of the mythology behind the artefact to Aaron and Lisa, piecing the film’s events neatly together. He may be performing a similar role to his iconic Final Destination part albeit a little more sympathetic in this but its always great to see him on screen thanks to his legendary genre status.
Woodward Jr. cleverly keeps the film’s mythological creature invisible for much of the film. Not overexposing the villain is a smart move keeping the mystery and speculation over what he is at arm’s length until the reveal is necessary within the narrative. The creature effects are impressively done when we do get glimpses of the threat.
Described as “Final Destination meets Wishmaster”, The Final Wish is a sorrowful tale of grief and the lengths we go to for the ones we love anchored by powerful performances from Michael Welch and Lin Shaye. It’s a slow burner but wholly worth sticking with to become absorbed in Aaron’s story and if he will face his past and overcome his demons, metaphorically and literally.
Signature Entertainment presents The Final Wish on Digital HD from May 25th.